We would prefer that broadcasters have fewer opportunities to demonstrate how important their one-to-many technology is during natural disasters. But the Oklahoma tornadoes once again showed the dedication of the industry to drop business as usual when events dictate.
Oklahoma broadcasters provided an early warning system and cable news channels consistently used local TV news feeds from their affiliate partners to inform their own viewers about the movement of the Moore tornado, which was being tracked in real time by meteorologists and storm chasers putting their lives on the line to inform viewers.
One station stayed with the story until high winds—evident in the audio from the on-air broadcast—forced staffers to move to their own storm shelter.
Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin, during a poststorm press conference, essentially echoed a point that is made periodically whenever informing the public becomes not just a matter of FCC public interest obligations, but one of life and death.
“I want to say thank you so very much to the media. The media has done a superb job over the last couple of days of keeping people informed about the current weather conditions, especially our weathermen and those that have been on the ground driving and calling and tracking the storm itself,” Fallin said.
And not only does that coverage save lives, it allows us all to share in the triumphs and tragedies of people often at their finest when things are toughest. Then stations turn on another dime to begin raising money for the victims.
Broadcasters should be proud of their effort. We know we are.
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